While many health care practices focus on preventing diseases by strengthening the body from the inside out, personal hygiene focuses on preventing problems by working from the outside in. Simple measures, like proper washing, oral and foot care, are cornerstones of good body maintenance.
Germs and Bacteria
Bacteria enter our bodies after we come into physical contact with them. Handling raw food, changing diapers, working in the garden, cleaning toilets and emptying garbage cans all expose us a variety of contaminants and bacteria. Immediately after coming into contact with any materials you feel might be harmful if swallowed or rubbed into your eyes or nose, wash your hands with soap and warm water.
Bathing and Washing
CNN Health recommends washing your hands after any of the following: food preparation, eating, treating wounds, coming into physical contact with a sick or injured person, placing or removing contact lenses, using the toilet, changing a diaper, blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing, using the toilet or handling garbage. Clean under your fingernails, where bacteria can hide in the food, dirt or other material which can lodge there.
Keeping your teeth, tongue and gums clean takes more than a rinse with mouth wash or the occasional brush. Your mouth is a considerable breeding ground for bacteria, and a transfer station for sending harmful bacteria throughout your body's system. According to research by Dr. Weston A. Price, cited in the book, "Root Canal Cover-Up," bacteria trapped in teeth can travel throughout the body, infecting organs, glands and tissue and can damage the kidneys, eyes, heart, brain and joints. In addition to thorough brushing, floss frequently to remove food lodged between teeth. Flossing also helps strengthen gums. Brush your tongue and gums, as well as your teeth, twice a day, to remove harmful bacteria and promote fresh breath.
Using the proper pads, tampons, cups or caps during menstruation is imperative to maintaining good hygiene for women. Changing items within their recommended use time increases their effectiveness and decreases sanitary problems and the chance of toxic shock. Proper and immediate disposal of menstrual products ensures no other humans or pets will be exposed to them.
Athlete's foot is caused by a fungus which thrives in warm, damp places. Wearing shoes without socks increases your chance of contracting this fungus. Athletes who do not change their wet socks after they are done with sports also run the risk of picking up this affliction. If you play recreational sports, consider bringing an extra pair of socks to your game or match so you can keep your feet dry if the team or foursome goes out for pizza or a beer after the night's activity. If you wear shoes without socks, line the shoes with an absorbent pad and/or use foot powder each time you wear them.
- CNN Health: Handwashing Do's and Don't's
- Web Health Centre: Grooming Routines
- "Root Canal Cover-Up"; George E. Meinig; 1994
- American Cleaning Institute: Wash Your Hands the Right Way